Spring Break Cautions
With Spring Break right around the corner (Punta Cana in twelve days and counting!!), I thought it would be timely to discuss a big issue when it comes to spring break and warm weather: skin care.
We’ve all heard of the dangers of too much sun exposure, but do we think about it when we’re exercising outdoors? Do we think about it when the day is foggy, hazy or cloudy? Do we think about it even in the winter when we’re more concerned with which layers to put on next?
On spring break this year, I challenge all of you to start thinking about it (if you don’t already) and begin regularly applying suntan lotion and covering up your skin. There’s why:
- Too much sun exposure can burn skin, make it wrinkle sooner and look leathery and aged. In addition, it can cause deeper damage that can cause cellular changes which lead to skin cancers.
- Just two blistering sunburns in a lifetime can increase the risk of skin cancer by 50 percent.
- Only minutes of exposure here and there accumulate over the years and lead to premature skin aging. This is far less than the exposure required to produce a visible sunburn or even a tan.
- Even on a cloudy day, up to 80 percent of the sun’s ultraviolet rays can pass through the clouds.
- There is risk even in the winter time and cold weather, especially since the shortened hours of daylight force many runners to run in the middle of the day. In addition, snow reflects 80 percent of the sun’s rays.
Check out more facts about the sun and sunscreens here.
How to Protect yourself while Outside:
- Wear water-proof sunscreen, SPF 30+ and that offers a “broad spectrum,” which means it protects from both UVA and UVB rays. Apply this sunscreen at least 30 minutes before being outside so your skin has time to absorb it. Also, while covering up is good, a t-shirt has an SPF of only about 7 (and offers even less protection if you sweat through it) and won’t prevent sunburn. This means you shouldn’t forget the areas that are covered either (or spring for some clothing that has built-in sun protection, which apparently exists).
- Protect the sensitive spots. The sun is more concentrated on your lips, shoulders, tops of your ears, and your head. In addition, your lips, ears, and scalp are extra sensitive to the sun. Your scalp, for example, was never designed to see the sun, so cancers develop more quickly and are more aggressive if they occur on your scalp.
- Cover up. While we just learned that covering up isn’t everything, it does do something. T-shirts and hats are just some of the ways to cover up.
- Avoid midday sun. The sun is most damaging between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Going outside earlier is best because there’s still a residual ultraviolet effect in the afternoon.
What is SPF?
- SPF (Sun Protection Factor) is a rating system for sun protection, specifically a measure of how much longer you can stay in the sun without burning compared to no protection at all.
- Example: Suppose that your skin normally begins to turn red after 10 minutes of unprotected sun exposure. If you use a product with SPF 2, your skin would not begin to turn red for twice that time (or 20 minutes). If you use a sun product with SPF 25, you could stay in the sun for 250 minutes before your skin would start to turn red.
- But remember, these numbers are not absolute! They vary with each individual skin type, the amount/frequency of application, amount of sunscreen the skin absorbs, activities you engage in (always reapply after swimming or sweating!!) and the strength of the sun that particular day.
Neutrogena Ultimate Sport Spray SPF 70 – Offers super protection for sensitive skin (and doesn’t clog pores!). This is my screen of choice. When I’m not working out though I usually use Neutrogena Ultra Sheer with helioplex SPF 70 (yes 70! That’s what you need, too!)
Coppertone Sport Sunblock Spray SPF 70 – Sprays easily (even upside down!) ensuring you get hard-to-reach areas.
Coola Sport SPF 45 – Lotion contains organic ingredients plus antioxidants.
Banana Boat Quik Dry Sport SPF 30 – Spray-bottle sunscreen is clear, rub-free and fast drying.
Hawaiian Tropical Ozone SPF 60+ – Non-greasy, absorbs quickly, and won’t run when you sweat.
Remember though, even waterproof sunscreen loses its effectiveness within 90 minutes if you sweat or swim, so reapply often! Check out this article from Runner’s World for more gear to protect yourself from the sun.
Do you put regularly apply sunscreen when you’re outdoors? If so, what kind/SPF? How frequently? Do you cover yourself up or strip clothing in the heat?